A relief is a form of sculpture where the form projects from a flat background.

Reliefs are especially used in architectural decorations, such as on temples, churches and monumental tombs. There are also some examples of reliefs used as altarpieces. In some cases, several panels are joined to create a cartoon effect so that a story is told.

There are three main types of reliefs:

  • Bas-relief: Low relief, where the backgound is compressed for depth
  • Alto-relievo: High relief, where the forms are almost free of the background
  • Sunken-relief or intaglio: The forms are cut into the stone rather than standing out from it
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